Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Lessons From Last Night (the 2013 Elections)

To Crush Your Enemies, See Them Driven Before You, Hear The Lamentations of their Women -- Conan The Barbarian asked "What is good in life"
Last night Chris Christie swooped to a historic margin of victory (22pts) in New Jersey and in the other big Democratic vs. Republican race we were watching Dem Terry McAulifee beat out "Tea Party favorite" Ken Cuccinelli in a squeaker. Ken, who had been taking a beating in the polls, ran strongly against Obamacare and tightened the race.

What Did We Learn?
Let's start with Virginia:

  • Women Won: I don't mean that women's issues candidate Terry McAulifee won so "women" in general were winners. I mean that white men split the candidates evenly he won women by 16 points. 
  • Marriage Lost: That's not the end of the story though. Cuccinelli won married voters by 6pts (men) and 9pts (women). That's right, Cuccinelli won with married women by nine points. He lost unmarried women by a whopping, massive, 42pts (and unmarried men by 25pts). We have noted here before that statistically the states with the longest lasting white marriages are strongly GOP.
  • Money Won: Terry McAulffee had $35MM and Cuccinelli only had $15. Part of that was an early decline in polling that gave Cuccinelli a "death spiral" (losing in the polls makes it hard for you to raise money ... which means you keep losing in the polls). However, another part of the story may be that Cuccinelli's hard-right stance on social issues, taken to firm up the Tea Party primary, may have cost him big-money donors.
  • Obamacare Lost: Cuccinelli blamed the shutdown on his polling slide--but he credits campaigning against Obamacare on his almost comeback. Most polling outfits had him losing by double-digits. He lost by 2.5 points.
Now, let's do Jersey!
  • Chris Christie sure is popular: He won by historic margins.
  • But not that popular: He wouldn't beat Hillary in NJ (a hard-blue state so no shocker) and didn't have coattails.
  • Still, Minorities Actually Like Him! He has cred few Republicans can match.
  • We'll See What Happens in 2016. No joke. He's gonna run.
So ... What?
The fact that the VA race tightened is good for the Tea Party: it validates their Obamacare attack strategy. The fact that Cuccinelli lost anyway and Christie won, on the other hand isn't so good for the TP. The real lesson here, thus far, that I can see anyway is this: the GOP "outreach plan" has failed. Cuccinelli's loss with the unmarried (and minority) voter mirrors what we saw at the end of 2012.

Christie's emphatic lack of setting his hair on fire to appeal to "the base" is also the exact opposite of what we saw in 2012--Although Romney and Christie are both moderates, they are polar opposites in how they try to sell their moderation.

If you are a GOP Base voter, you can be cheered that some candidates have stayed the course--but you might want to look at the outcomes and potential canaries in coal mines.